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Aug 232013


The Silk Road conjures images of caravans and exotic spices. The months long journey between China and Europe passed over a network with several branches focusing travel through the Anatolian Peninsula to Constantinople and the Black Sea and Aegean coasts.

During the Seljuk empire, 1077-1307 CE, 250 Caravansaries were built to facilitate trade. For three days, travelers received free food, water, shelter and fodder. Built a day’s camel journey apart, some still exist and have been restored. The Sultanhan Aksaray, along the highway we’re traveling from the coastal city of Kuşadası to the other-worldly landscape of Cappodocia, is a beautiful example.

Built in 1229, its imposing stone walls, elaborately decorated portal and massive gates would have signaled that within lay security and hospitality.

Caravansaries operated year-round. The interior courtyard and surrounding storerooms accommodated fair-weather travelers while the enormous enclosed space behind provided shelter for winter.

Sultanhan Akasaray

Sultanhan Akasary Turkey

Sultanhan Akasaray Turkey

With humans and animals housed within, the stench must have been incredible. Still, it beat the open spaces of this high, windy plateau. On the day we visit, dust, blown by a strong, southerly wind makes things a bit unpleasant.

Traveling farther east, the tawny plains give rise to rolling hills dominated by a snow-capped volcanic peak. This volcano is one source of the soft volcanic tuff that eroded into the other-worldly landscape for which Cappodocia is famous.

Goreme Cappodocia

Weaving Turkish carpet Cappodocia Turkey

  The Cappodocia region is the primary source for high-quality hand-woven Turkish carpets.

Goreme Cappodicia


For thousands of years, people have carved their homes, stables and churches into the fantastic hills and canyons of the region. During the 9th century, they excavated entire underground cities which could shelter as many as 50,000 people from the marauding armies of the time.

Our travels this day take us to the city of Nevşhehir and into the unforeseen warmth and hospitality of a resident of the tiny village of Nar.

Nar, Nevshahir

We planned to first wander the streets of this ancient village of cave houses and later to explore a valley near the famous outdoor museum of rock-hewn churches in Göreme.

As we walk the twisting lanes, people invariably greet us. A women sorting home-dried raisins, offers us a handful.  A man leaving a tiny mosque motions us to follow him. Leading us to an opening, he shows us an ancient mill where donkeys had driven the huge grinding stone for generations.

Nar Cappodocia

Nar Cappodocia Mehmet's Neighbor

Nar Mosque Camii

Nar Cappodocia

Nar Nevshahir Cappodocia Cave House

Leading us further, he points out various things but our non-existent Turkish inhibits understanding. Then, coming up the street, he introduces us to Mehmet, a colorfully dressed gentleman with salt and pepper hair and an infectious laugh. We quickly find we can communicate in German and our plans for the day evaporate.

Mehmet is a retired art teacher. Born in Nar, he returned after retirement to buy the cave house he grew up in to turn it into an artist’s retreat. He invites us to visit and without hesitation, we accept.

Mehmet of Nar

Entering a hand-carved wooden door reveals a series of hand-hewn caves set in the cliff,  some are ancient, others not. He has excavated 2,500 pickup loads of rock to date. There are multi-room caves, two-story caves with hand-made wooden floors, stairs and cabinets. This is a labor of love.

Mehmet of Nar Cave House

Climbing the cliff reveals more caves, one half-filled with rubble yet to be hauled away, and another former stable with stone feed troughs and hitches in tact. How many generations have lived here?

Mehmet plys us with tea and homemade bread as we sit on his terrace  overlooking the town. Here is a truly happy man, building his dream.

Mehmet's Cave Garage Cappodocia

 Mehmet’s Garage

Nar Cappodocia

Nar Cappodocia Mehmet's Neighbors

Nar Cappodocia Turkey

 Mehmet and I with some of the locals.

Mehmet's Neighbors Nar Cappodocia

He invites us to go hiking. Soon we’re leaving the town behind, walking through a narrow valley of small farms. Purple blossoming almond trees shelter people planting potatoes while earlier crops poke through the ground.

Husband and Wife farming outside of Nar Cappodocia

Unprepared, after several miles, we’re thirsty, and hungry. There is no town or market.

Mehmet makes a call, leads us across a field and into a small dwelling where we’re greeted by his friends, a retired commissar and his wife.

Mehmet's Friends Nar Cappodocia

She prepares tea and produces bowls of nuts, dried fruits and cookies. It’s difficult to communicate but there are thank you’s and smiles and they know we appreciate their hospitality.

A different way back leads over hills, through vineyards and past an old Ottoman cemetery. We say our goodbyes, thanking Mehmet for a memorable day, once again, blown away by the graciousness of Turks, a culture of hospitality that extends far back in time.

Ottoman Cemetery Tombstone Cappodocia

Plastic bag trash Nevsheshir Turkey

Plastic bags are sadly a scourge seen all to frequently around Turkey.

Rainbow over Nevşehir, TurkeyNevşehir, Turkey

Cappodocia Turkey

An old women in Nar chopping grape vines for kindling, used to flavor grilled meats.

Copyright 2013 Dennis Jones/Dreamcatcher Imaging


Also check out my photography tutorials at:  http://dreamcatcherimaging.blogspot.com

Jul 192013

Kusadasi Panoramic View of the City

Being a photographer, what I love most about traveling is wandering the old neighborhoods and back alleys of some exotic locale. Turkey offers this in spades with the added benefit of safety. I have not felt unsafe for a minute.

Unfortunately for photography, the government is pushing urban renewal. The slums are fast disappearing. Developers are given government land in exchange for building modern apartments that are given to those whose houses are then bulldozed.

The slums of Kusadasi

Yes, I said given. The developers turn their profit on the additional condos that can be sold. This enlightened approach is transforming Turkish cities and the lives of the poor.

The coastal Aegean city of Kuşadası is a prime example. Kuşadası is the bedroom for tours visiting the ancient and cosmopolitan, biblical city of Ephesus.  http://dreamcatcherseminars.com/2010/10/13/from-the-ruins-of-ephesus-to-the-mediterranean-beauty-of-antalya/    Four and five star hotels dominate its headlands and coves. The azure waters of the Aegean washes lazily at their rocky foundations.

Kusadasi Hotel swimming pool

Kusadasi, Turkey Fisherman rowing boat

Kusadasi, Turkey Fish Market

Kusadasi Harbor

The city’s waterfront, pedestrian plaza is evidence of the urban transformation. New sculptures, restaurants and playgrounds follow the sweep of the city’s bay which terminates in a slum encrusted hill at its south end.

Wandering the steep lanes and narrow alleys of this poor neighborhood, I find old, Ottoman houses in various states of decay. Children play hopscotch in the cobblestone lanes while a man on his balcony proudly displays his prize fighting rooster. Observing this is an elderly grandmother safeguarding the neighborhood from her rooftop perch.


Kusadasi street

Kusadasi Man with Fighting Cock

Kusadasi Old women watching her neighborhood

Turks are invariably friendly and eager to help. Several stop to talk as I wander, some offering me cookies and fruit juice.

Kusadasi, Turkey Girl

Kusadasi, Turkey bearded man

The tree-filled park crowning the hill provides a panoramic view. Urban renewal is evident in the new, multi-colored apartment buildings stacked upon the surrounding hills.

Kusadasi, Turkey park with children

Kusadasi, Turkey Panorama

Rooftop, solar hot water installations are ubiquitous. With Turkey’s lack of petroleum resources, it makes sense to use the abundant sunshine.

Kusadasi, Turkey Solar hot water installation

Turkey’s enlightened attitude influences not just urban renewal and energy use but extends into infrastructure, education, social security and health care.

The country is investing in their future with new roads, bridges and communications access. Education is mandatory and free. Win entrance to college and the government picks up the tab. Everyone has access to free, quality health care, and government retirement benefits are generous.

Kusadasi, Turkey men talking

Kusadasi, Turkey Man selling vegetables

This hasn’t always been the norm. The collapse of the Ottoman Empire in 1922 brought frequent upheavals over the following decades. Since the Turks embraced democracy and modernization, there has been a steady rise in prosperity and stability.

Kusadasi, Turkey Ad for modern apartment

Kusadasi. Turkey  panorama at night

Moving east into Western Anatolia, the fertile Menderes River Valley reminds me of California’s enormous central valley in miniature; a long, broad, agricultural valley bordered on one side by hills and low mountains and on the other by magnificent, snow-covered peaks.

After several hours traversing the valley, a white scar becomes evident along a bench on the northern mountains. This is the national park of Pamukkale, or Cotton Castle, one of Turkey’s major tourist destinations.

Drawing closer, the enormous size of the majestic, travertine cliffs becomes apparent. Think Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone on a truly mammoth scale. The brilliant, white formation is a mile and half long and over five hundred feet high. People have bathed in its terraced pools for thousands of years.

Pamukkale, Turkey Hieropolis Roman Ruins

Panukkale, Turkey Hot Springs

Pamukkale, Turkey Hot springs bathers

The ruins of the Greco-Roman city of Hierapolis sits on a broad bench of ancient travertine behind the cliffs. Green hills sprinkled with crimson poppies rise behind the ruins. Hierapolis must have been a magnificent city in a spectacular setting. People from around the Roman world came to take the cure and many, to die. A vast Necropolis of tombs and sarcophagi lies west of the reconstructed ruins.

Pamukkale, Turkey Hieropolis Roman Ruins

Pamukkale, Turkey Hieropolis Roman Ruins

Pamukkale, Turkey Hieropolis Roman Ruins

Pamukkale, Turkey Hieropolis Roman Ruins

The modern spa and hot springs allow visitors to partake of the ancient waters amid a lush oasis. Columns and pedestals of the long dead civilization provide resting places for those enjoying the healing waters.

Pamukkale, Turkey Hieropolis Roman Ruins

The more I explore Turkey, the more impressive it becomes. Coming from a country with a historical perspective of only a few hundred years, it is difficult to imagine the viewpoint of a Turk.

America has known only two civilizations in 1,000 years of history. The Anatolian Peninsula has known 623 years of Ottoman civilization preceded by the rise and fall of numerous civilizations over some 8,000 years, back to the very dawn of history. This must influence their outlook.

Pamukkale, Turkey Hieropolis Roman Ruins

Pamukkale, Turkey Hieropolis Roman Ruins

Copyright 2013 Dennis Jones/Dreamcatcher Imaging


Also check out my photography tutorials at:  http://dreamcatcherimaging.blogspot.com

Jul 032013

_DSC9510 Nik B&W Recipe w-out B&W SilvrFX WetRocks-Edit

At the intersection of legend and history.

Few regions in the world have held such hold on the collective psyche as the northern stretch of Turkey’s Aegean coast. Think Homer’s Iliad and the Trojan wars, the Biblical city of Smyrna and more recently, Gallipoli a name held in reverence by both Turks Aussies and Kiwis. And how about the dwelling place of Satan?

Driving west along the Sea of Marmara from the megacity of Istanbul, the housing developments thin out and rich, rolling farmland dominates.

After two hours, low mountains appear with quiet, blue lakes nestled within their verdant valleys. Turning southwest toward Gallipoli, the long, narrow peninsula which protects the legendary Dardanelles Strait from the Aegean, rolling hills and small plains are filled with blossoming orchards surrounded by rice paddies and fields with emerging artichokes and strawberries.

Gallipoli Harbor

We arrive at the port of Gallipoli, Galibolu in Turkish, the major transit point south across the narrow and dangerous thirty-eight mile long Dardanelles. Known to history as the Hellespont, it allows passage between the Mediterranean and Black Sea. Here, as in Istanbul, a narrow strait separates Europe from Asia.

While awaiting the ferry, we wander the small, double harbor where the fishing fleet lies at anchor. Fisherman patch nets while others sit upon the many bags of nets strewn about the stone wharf talking and smoking.

Gallipoli Fisherman Mending Nets

Gallipoli Harbor Boats

Loading the ferry, a blustery breeze stirs the choppy waters of the strait. The three mile crossing takes thirty minutes and, after disembarking, we head toward perhaps the most legendary city on the planet, Troy. Looking across the strait as we drive the forty-five minutes southwest, monuments to the WW I battles of Gallipoli appear on the opposite shore.

These battles between the Ottoman army and the ANZAC forces of Australia and New Zealand, have become legend. The Ottomans, allied with Germany and led by Colonel Mustafa Kemal, held back an intense assault over many months. Defeat would have given the allies access to the Black Sea and supply routes to Russia. Brutal fighting cost over four hundred thousand casualties.

Mustafa Kemal gained fame here and later passed into legend as Atatürk, the father of modern Turkey. Every April 25th, tens of thousand Aussies and Kiwis, descendants of the ANZAC troops, come from afar to honor their memory at a sunrise service.

Coming to the turnoff to Troy, a 5 km road leads west through fertile farmland to the archaeological site.

Troy and the Dardenelles

Ruins of legendary Troy hold their silent sentinel over the now silted bay that made the city wealthy.

  Troy disappeared from history sometime after the 4th century CE. Historians were not certain whether it had existed or was simply a legend. Heinrich Schliemann, a German businessman who had made his money in the gold fields of California, became obsessed with discovering Troy. He read every account he could find and finally determined the location before digging a long, wide trench down to bedrock. His initial trench revealed at least nine levels of habitation, growth and destruction.


Showing the nine layers of habitation between 3000 BCE and 100 BCE found while excavating the city.



  Salih, our excellent, venerable guide.

The city had been on a large bay at the mouth of the Hellespont. The bay has silted up over the centuries. Ships passing the strait can be seen from the ruins across several miles of lush, flat farmland. Troy became rich collecting anchorage fees from the ships waiting in their harbor for the infrequent favorable winds that would allow them to pass the strait.

Canakkale Waterfront


We spend the night in Çanakkale, a vibrant, modern city on the Dardanelles. It is Sunday evening, an hour before sunset. Strolling families and couples fill the wide pedestrian mall lining the waterfront. The huge Trojan horse from the 2004 movie stands proudly on the mall.

Canakkale Waterfront

Trojan Horse Canakklale Turkey

Canakkale Turkey Night

The brightly lit minaret of a waterfront mosque is a focus of the lively city of Çanakkale.

 The following morning, we head south to the ruins of the ancient city of Pergamon and, according to the Book of Revelation, the dwelling place of Satan. The acropolis, with its theaters, temples and the second finest library in the ancient world, rises 1,000 feet above the river plain. The magnificent, reconstructed Altar of Zeus, likely thought of as the throne of Satan, has it’s own room in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin.

Pergamon Bergama Turkey

Unfortunately, the acropolis is closed for major reconstruction, but wandering the Aesklepion, one of the major Roman centers of healing, offers a taste of the architectural splendor of an ancient spa. Legends come to life and are made in this fertile coastal region of Turkey. And how could they not after 5,000 years of human habitation.

Asclepium Pergamon Bergama Turkey

Ruins of the ancient Sanctuary of Asclepius, the god of healing, testify to the magnificence of an ancient Roman spa.

Pergamon Bergama Turkey

Pergamon Bergama Turkey

Country life in the shadow of the acropolis of Pergamon.

Copyright 2013 Dennis Jones/Dreamcatcher Imaging


Jun 132013


I had tried to imagine the Aegean coast of Turkey’s southwest; hundreds of miles of empty coastline with isolated beaches punctuated by rocky coves of crystalline, turquoise water surrounded by lush, Mediterranean vegetation and ancient archeological ruins.

I was not disappointed.

The city of Bodrum, the heart of this region, lies on the southern coast of its peninsula. With its well-sheltered harbor separated from a sandy-beached bay by an isthmus and the magnificent Bodrum castle, the city holds charms for both the well-heeled and the backpacker.

Harbour Pano

A glance at the harbor tells you unequivocally; there is some very serious money in Bodrum. Yacht after incredible yacht lines the castle-side quay, every one impeccably maintained. Their thick coats of varnish gleam in the generous sunlight.

As for the rest of the harbor, lesser, yet still expensive yachts, clutter the wharfs and quays with a forest of masts.



The eastern bay side of the castle offers a crescent of sand lined with restaurants, shops, bars, discos and pensions. Everything a tourist could want is found in the maze of alleys behind the beach. More facilities are planned as the area is undergoing renovation.

A broad, pedestrian plaza fronts the bay’s eastern end. We spent several gorgeous evenings as the sun went down feasting lazily or sharing drinks at seaside restaurants and cafes.



Our real find though, was the Manastir Hotel situated on the eastern hillside above the town. Our room’s balcony had a breathtaking 180 degree view of the town, the Aegean and its many islands including Grecian Kos, fifteen miles away. Service was superb, the staff well trained and friendly plus, they provided the best breakfast buffet we had in all of Turkey. Breakfast is an important meal to the Turks and always included with the room.

Bodrum Day Pano Short

Bodrum is the main port from which sailing excursions depart. Day trips to multi-week adventures leave from here to explore the vast coastline of southwestern Turkey and its Aegean islands. The peninsula has become a mecca for Brits, Germans and Swedes escaping their northern climes.



 Looking southwest over the tiny village of Gümüşlük toward the Greek island of Kalimnos.



This sad circumstance spawned a building boom that has flooded the picturesque coves around the peninsula with all to often ticky-tacky little boxes. Entire hillsides on the western end of the peninsula are awash with developments.


As with the rest of Turkey, history extends back thousands of years. Known to the Greeks as Halicarnassus, one of its most famous kings, Mausolus, built his eponymous mausoleum around 350 BCE. It was so beautiful and formidable an architectural masterwork that it was identified as one of the “Seven Wonders of the Ancient World”. Its foundation and ruins are now a museum where one can gain a sense of its majesty and artistry.

When the Knights Hospitaller arrived in 1402, they used much of the earthquake ruined structure to construct their castle in the isthmus where Mausolus’s palace likely had stood. Over the next 120 years, most of the mausoleum’s stones were used to fortify the castle while its many statues were ground up to produce lime for cement.


The castle fell to the Ottomans in 1522 and after several incarnations over the ensuing centuries, has now been turned into the premier underwater archeological museum in the world.

Despite some rain and cold weather, we’re glad to have been here in off-season. We had several gorgeous sunny days without crowds. Come spring and especially summer, the city is jammed. The disco/party scene goes until dawn.




We rented a car for a day to explore the peninsula. Driving along the coast on the at times, sketchy road, offers one great ocean view after another. In all the small towns and nearly every cove, construction is either in full swing or recently completed. You have to wonder when the boom will collapse.



Still, we found much bucolic countryside with horses grazing in fields of wildflowers, little villages stuck in time and hills thick with evergreen forests.



If you are like most provincial Americans who possess a distorted and negative image of this extraordinary country, the beautiful, vivacious, modern city of Bodrum will disabuse you of your erroneous illusions.

Bodrum Pano from West







 Pınar, a lovely, Kurdish woman from Ceylanpınar, a Turkish town on the Syrian border.








Copyright 2013 Dennis Jones/Dreamcatcher Imaging


May 032013

_DSC9257 Nik Define_1

The melodic wail of the Azan, the call to prayer, pierces my jet-lagged sleep. “Allahu Akbar! Allahu Akbar!”God is great! God is great!, calls the amplified muezzin in a high tenor. Quickly following sings a second muezzin in a resonant baritone. Before the first begins his next phrase, a third chimes in, another tenor but with faster tempo. 
Somewhere more distant, a fourth Azan rings forth and maybe a fifth. I can’t tell. The melodious call to prayer reverberates along the dark, narrow streets and alleys of Sultanahmet, Istanbul’s old city. The sounds echo off walls and buildings, rising to a glorious cacophony until each muezzin finishes in his turn and once again quiet rules the dawning day in Sultanahmet.


cksRecipe  Nik SepiaRecipe





I have returned to Turkey with a contract for a book from a Turkish publishing house. Seeing my previous work, an editor felt there was a place in their catalog for a book by an American photographer/writer that could reinforce the bridge between Western misconceptions and the reality of his dynamic country.

They’ve invited us for lunch today. Their office is somewhere in Asia, that is, the Asian side of the legendary Bosphorus dividing not just Istanbul, but Europe and Asia as well.



 Nothing like trying to do a photo shoot on a breezy day in a rocking boat at the entrance to the Bosporus Strait.



“Take a ferry from Eminönü to Üskudar, then a taxi to my office.”, wrote the editor. On the ferry, address in hand, we meet a kindly, English-speaking Turkish gentleman who takes us under his wing. “Don’t take a taxi. They’ll drive you around and cheat you.” He finds the right bus, even pays our fare, hands me his phone number saying, “Call me when you’re done and I’ll show you the fantastic view from Çamlıca Tepe.”

Following our course on googlemaps shows me where to get off but when I get to the location shown on the app, it’s not there. Quizzical gestures with the address to a passerby points me to the building two blocks away.

The meeting goes well. We’re shown warm, Turkish hospitality and the impressive variety and quality of books they publish. When finished, the editor calls our new friend and we agree to meet at the ferry. How can one pass up such serendipitous hospitality.

Weather has turned. It’s overcast, not an afternoon to photograph a spectacular, mountain-top view. He suggests a ferry ride through the Golden Horn, the body of water separating old Istanbul from the more cosmopolitan Beyoğlu district. First though, he takes us around Üskudar and introduces us to a friend of his who owns an historic kebab restaurant where we sample some wonderful fresh-baked bread.




After passing beneath the famous Galata Bridge, we zig-zag from shore to shore, dropping people off, picking others up. Dusk descends, a glorious sunset spreads behind the city silhouetting mosques and their minarets against a crimson fire. We take the funicular  to the top of the Pierre Loti cemetary where the lights of the Golden Horn are spread beneath us. Exhausted from the day, jet-lag and the cold, it is after-all, winter, our friend sees us off in Eminönü promising to meet another day for the view from the mountain.

Golden Horn Night Pano

The next day we spend wandering the streets of Sultanahmet and at Istanbul’s archeological museum where millennia of human habitation and creativity is on display.





The incredibly crafted Alexander Sarcophagus from the 5th century BCE. A masterpiece of ancient sculpture.

If there is one thing that dominates your awareness in Turkey, it is history. Vast expanses of human history pervade the Anatolian landscape. The Tigris and Euphrates, those rivers of legend that cradled civilization, have their source high in the mountains of Northeastern Turkey.



 A Seljuk mithrab from 1432, made twenty-one years before the Ottomans conquered Constantinople in 1453.


The massive bulwark of the aspe on the exterior of the Hagia Sophia built by the Emperor Justinian I in 537 CE.


The remains of a Byzantine triumph arch, the starting point of the Via Egnetia. This Roman road led to the cities of Europe and was the point from which distances were measured.  4th century CE

Evidence of humanity extends back 65,000 years! Civilization though, doesn’t begin until the Neolithic, around 8,000 BCE, when mankind evolved from its hunter-gatherer lifestyle and learned to cultivate crops and domesticate animals. The Anatolian Peninsula, which makes up the 97% of Turkey not in Europe, is chock full of Neolithic sites.

The neolithic was only the beginning. Cities sprang up. Bronze replaced stone, iron replace bronze. Armies conquered. Empires grew. clashed and disappeared time after time over the thousands of years before the Greek roots of our civilization appeared.
The entire panoply of early civilization and much of the history of the past two millennia can be seen. So here, in two short days, I experience a summation of my book; the incredible warmth and hospitality of a Muslim culture firmly rooted in history.
Before I really get to work though, we’ll escape winter and head south to Israel, returning in a few weeks to southern Turkey where spring will have begun.

Copyright 2013 Dennis Jones/Dreamcatcher Imaging


Apr 062013


I’m a little late about posting this but you’ll find the images interesting in any event. This is the amazing Consumer Electronics Show held every year by one of my clients, the Consumer Electronics Association. Vast amounts have already been written about it so I’ll just share the photographs and add a couple captions. Enjoy!



Entertainment of all kinds. Anything to attract attention.





Can you believe it? Even eCigarettes.



Motion detecting sensors take it right onto the screen.





 Nail designs made easy.




Driverless cars will be here sooner than you think.


Some baseball player I think. Anything to draw attention.


Health monitoring for the iPhone and iPad is the future of medicine.


Cases anyone?


Audi always shows some amazing cars and technology.



LG’s new robovac. Really sophisticated and easy house cleaning.







Many more Chinese companies now have big displays in the main halls.


Some rappers, I think, brought in to attract attention. Not that Sony’s huge surround screen didn’t.


Try out a Nikon camera!


John Shalom came from Egypt and started Audiovox from scratch selling a couple radios at CES 30 or so years ago. Now look at some of the brands they own. His is an amazing, American success story. And he and his wife Jane, are really nice people.


Monster is always in attendance and the Head Monster himself, Noel Lee, makes his appearances throughout the show. His is another amazing American success story.




Some “famous” DJ, or maybe he was a skateboarder, brought in to attract attention.



 LG’s incredible 75’x20′ or so 3D wall with custom created content dazzled attendees as they entered the main hall.

Copyright 2012 Dennis Jones/Dreamcatcher Imaging


Jul 182012

Split, Croatia

Soon after entering the warren of narrow streets and tiny alleys comprising the ancient, walled, old section of the Croatian town of Split, the glorious harmonies of a men’s chorus beckons us. Seeking the source, we mount a stairway adjacent to the elegant facade of the Cathedral of St. Duje leading to a high, bullet-shaped pantheon, open to the sky at its apex.

 Split, Croatia Damatian Chorus Cathedral of St. Duje

Split, Croatia

A chorus of eight, black-clad men stand in the small, acoustically profound space, serenading the gathered tourists with traditional, dalmatian music–a tight blend of magnificent, a cappella harmonies. Happening upon these wonderful voices in such ancient surrounding sends chills up my spine and tears to my eyes–so unexpected, so profoundly beautiful; buskers of the highest order. Who could begrudge them a generous donation while also purchasing their DVD to enjoy at home.

Split, Croatia Damatian Chorus

This is a miraculous introduction to the clean, bright, Adriatic town of Split, Croatia’s second-largest city.

Recent archaeological research indicates the Greeks founded a trading settlement here sometime in the 6th century BCE. Later, the Romans, the dominant power of the region, established control during the Illyrian Wars of 229-219 BCE.

At the beginning of the 3rd century CE, the emperor Diocletian had an enormous and opulent palace built to serve as his home after his retirement from politics. Becoming the first Roman emperor to voluntarily step down, Diocletian retired to then Spalatum in 305 CE. The palace now constitutes the old section and inner core of Split.

Following the slow decline of the Western Roman Empire, Spalatum became part of the Byzantine empire ruled from Constantinople, now Istanbul.

During Medieval times, the Venetian Republic, the Kingdom of Croatia, and the Kingdom of Hungary vied for control. In the 10th century, the influence of the slowly rising trading power of the Venetian Republic over the islands and coastal towns of the Adriatic gradually spread. It wasn’t until 1420, following a twenty-year civil war, when the Kingdom of Hungary lost control to Naples of what was then called by its Croat population, Spalatro. Venice subsequently took control of the town, buying it from the Neapolitans.

Venice ruled what they called Spalato for 377 years, losing control in 1797. Napoleon ruled it from 1806-1812 after which now Split, became part of the Austro-Hungarian province of Dalmatia until the empire’s dissolution following World War I.

It was incorporated into the new Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, later the Kingdom of Yugoslavia until the Nazis invaded in 1941. Fascist Italy annexed Split a month later. The Fascists met heavy opposition from the Croat population and following the capitulation of Italy in September, 1943, the partisan brigades of Marshal Tito temporarily liberated the city only to be forced to retreat by the Nazis a few weeks later.

Split was finally liberated in October of 1944. It became the Socialist Republic of Croatia, a sovereign republic of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. This was a boom time. Split became the largest passenger and military port in Yugoslavia. Investment poured in and industry, particularly shipbuilding, flourished.

In 1991, with the collapse of Yugoslavia and the rest of the Eastern Bloc, Croatia declared its independence and with Splits old section, the long-since urbanized interior of Diocletian’s palace, as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the city remains a major link to numerous Adriatic islands, the Apennine peninsula and Croatia’s interior.

Split, Croatia Harbor

Split, Croatia Harbor Cafe

Cafes set along the harbor and against the walls of Diocletian’s Palace

Split, Croatia Harbor

Split Old Town

A clock tower dominates the entrance to the ancient town.

Split, Croatia

Split, Croatia Graffiti Abstract
Split, Croatia
Split, Croatia Ethnographic Museum 18th Century Clothing
Traditional dress inside the Ethnographic Museum.
Split, Croatia Ethnographic Museum
Split, Croatia Cafe
Split, Croatia
The Cathedral of St. Duje and its adjacent square.

Split, Croatia Roman Artifacts
Split, Croatia
The Basement Halls Museum of Diocletian’s Palace.
Split, Croatia

Croatia’s greatest sculpture, Ivan Mestrovic’s statue of the Croatia Bishop Gregorius of Nin, Grgur Ninski in Croatian.

Split, Croatia Adriatic Coast Panorama
Panorama of the Croatian Adriatic coast south of Split.
Split, Croatia Adriatic Coast Panorama Dusk
Dusk along the mountainous, Croatian, Adriatic Coast between Split and Dubrovnik.

Copyright 2012 Dennis Jones/Dreamcatcher Imaging


Jun 102012

Along the northeast coast of the Adriatic, wedged tightly between Italy’s elegant Trieste and the mountainous coast and islands of Croatia, lies a tiny sliver of Slovenia. The ancient town of Koper occupies this narrow shard providing otherwise land-locked Slovenia with its only access to the sea.

As Yolanda and I wander Koper’s walled old quarter, its ancient streets echo to the hoof-on-stone sounds of a team of horses clopping and sliding down the gentle incline of age-polished cobbles. Seeking protection within a doorway gives the colorful cart of tourists space to pass.

The town is clean and bright. Shuttered, lightly pastel houses and buildings rise only occasionally higher than two stories. Being a Sunday, few people other than tourists are about.

Finding ourselves quickly outside the walls of the old section, we encounter the modern side of Koper, again, low sleak buildings sloping gently to an azure harbor filled with boats. Only a very few boats belie the apparent modest incomes of this newly-formed country cloven from the former, communist Yugoslavia.

Wandering along the harbor on this gorgeous, clear, fall morning, a hive of activity surrounds several large tents. We’ve stumbled upon a local harvest fair. Booths inside the tents display local cheeses, olive oils, honeys, vinegars, vegetables and wines.

Proud farmers eagerly hand out samples hoping to entice purchases or simply to share their land’s bounty. A local mushroom-gatherers club displays numerous varieties as a fragrant batch is sautéed for sampling.

Emerging from this festival for the taste buds, the distant snow-covered mountains of Italy and Austria rise to the west of the deep blue Adriatic. A long, white line, miles away, appears very strange. Using my telephoto, the line resolves into a massive volumn of sails, thousands as it turns out. Trieste, Koper’s Italian neighbor, is holding their annual yacht race, the largest in the world. Over two thousand yachts participate each year!

More to follow on the amazing, ancient Croatian cities of Split and Dubrovnic.

Copyright 2012 Dennis Jones/Dreamcatcher Imaging